BMW expects further sales growth in 2015

MUNICH - Germany's BMW expects its luxury car sales to increase in 2015, building on this year's solid expansion, even as economic growth in core European markets stalls and geopolitical risks persist.

Business activity is restrained in large parts of Europe, destination of more than 40 per cent of BMW's sales, yet the Munich-based company expects demand for its luxury models such as the 3-Series, 5-Series and X5 to continue luring customers into its showrooms.

"The world has got a few bumps in the road at the moment," BMW sales chief Ian Robertson told Reuters. "We still see that there is more opportunity for growth than downside risks next year," he said, citing demand from the United States, China and parts of Europe.

BMW is sticking to its goal of selling more than 2 million cars this year, but last month scaled back its expectations, saying it expects a "solid" increase in sales in 2014 after previously calling for a "significant" gain.

The manufacturer, which also owns the Mini and Rolls-Royce brands, has invested billions in developing a range of electric cars being sold under the "i" brand.

BMW will boost i3 sales beyond 20,000 next year, a level originally set as target for 2014. Deliveries of the four-seater i3 totalled about 12,000 in the first 10 months, powered by demand from Norway, Britain and California.

"We had a slower rampup than originally anticipated," Robertson said. "The numbers now are running where we expected them to be."

He also indicated BMW may over time reduce the model range at its core premium brand, though this was not an immediate objective.

BMW said last month it plans to cut the Mini brand range to five models from seven over the longer term, as the automaker aims to sharpen the division's appeal amid increasing competition.

"We continually look for some new niches," Robertson said. "Does that mean that our range will always have all the cars it always did? I'm not sure."